Engaging entry-level hiresOctober 14, 2016 by Anna Peters
No doubt you’re familiar with the job-hopping trend that Millennials are known for. How do you increase your retention of entry-level hires? Wendy Stoner, Director for the Office of Emerging Talent Development at GSA, knows how. She leads a Leadership Development program to engage entry-level hires. She calls the two-week on-boarding Career 101. “Millennials like to be part of a cohort,” she says. “They don’t like to be on their own,” so the new employees work together along two training tacks.
They receive technical training to prepare them for the functions of their jobs. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, they learn soft skills like professional communication, presentation and negotiation skills, and how to have a critical conversation in the workplace. They watch videos and practice role play to prepare them for working with people whose backgrounds and working style differ from their own. Also, GSA delivers the Myers-Briggs personality indicator to explain why coworkers’ behaviors may differ, and how to work with them.
Generational differences? You don’t say.
The Careerstone Group designed GSA’s training in response to the inter-generational issues we all hear about. You know some of the complaints. Baby Boomers complain about Millennials’ informal communication (they write emails like text messages, Boomers say). And Millennials complain about Baby Boomers’ work ethic (keeping long hours doesn’t mean you’re more productive, Millennials say). During their Career 101, new GSA employees learn to articulate what these generational differences are, and understand the different values that cause differences in behavior.
Don’t stop at on-boarding.
Stoner says GSA invests in engagement beyond the first two weeks. They put their entry-level hires on a two-year rotational track that exposes them to different areas of their field. For example, a new hire in finance may rotate to learn about formulating budgets, executing them, strategic planning and more. Not only does this prepare them for a variety of possible jobs, but it clearly demonstrates that they care about employees’ development. GSA wants employees to discover what job appeals to them most. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was that age,” Stoner remarks, so it is only fair to facilitate employees’ learning for a couple years.
Nothing counts without an open culture
Formal training can transfer plenty of knowledge, but without an open company culture that embraces all employees, that training can fall flat. Stoner says, “Your culture needs to be open to listening to them and hearing their ideas.” She says GSA recognizes that good ideas can come from anyone, regardless of where they sit on the org chart. Their investment and openness pay off. GSA retains 93% of entry-level hires during their first two years–pretty impressive for the new job-hopping norm. Engaging Millennials doesn’t have to be hard. Stoner says, “We want them know they are coming into a company that does value their development. Millennials are eager, knowing that a company will make an investment in them.”
Wendy Stoner will be a panelist at this December’s College Recruiting Bootcamp. She serves as GSA’s Director for the Office of Emerging Talent Development within the Office of Human Resources Management. She strives to create an environment of highly engaged employees dedicated to accomplishing GSA’s mission and has successfully recruited hundreds of highly talented recent graduates prepared to tackle GSA’s business challenges. Stoner’s work is helping GSA fuel the pipeline to meet the agency’s future leadership and succession planning needs. Connect with Wendy on LinkedIn.
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